Portrait of Mendes Cohen

  • Joseph Wood, Portrait of Mendes Cohen, 1818, oil on wood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1978.67.1

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Joseph Wood was primarily a miniaturist, but he created several larger portraits, including this image of Mendes Cohen. The age of the sitter suggests he is probably Colonel Mendes I. Cohen, who was born in Richmond in 1796. Cohen enlisted in the army when he was sixteen and served during the War of 1812. He worked as a banker until 1829, when he retired and embarked on a six-year tour of Europe and the Middle East. He collected a wide variety of relics on his travels and was the first American to carry the flag up the River Nile in Egypt. Wood painted this portrait in 1818, before Cohen set off on his travels and while both men were living in Baltimore. Cohen appears to regard the viewer with a haughty expression that conveys the confidence that would carry him through his adventures later in life.

Portrait of Mendes Cohen
15 5/8 x 14 in. (39.7 x 35.7 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase

Mediums Description
oil on wood
  • Portrait male – Cohen, Mendes – bust
  • Occupation – monetary – banker
Object Number
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